Fredericton — The capital city’s iconic old train bridge will no longer be the subject of countless photographers’ and Instagram users’ photos. That is, unless they’re prepared to pay a hefty fine for copyright violation. Enterprising photographer Timothy Savoie, 27, says he was struggling to earn enough to pay rent each month when a sudden stroke of genius set him on a quick path to fortune.
“I’d just got my latest crap paycheque from BNI for some freelance photo work, and I was feeling pretty bad about putting way more time into than it was worth,” said Savoie. “I went for a walk across the old train bridge to clear my head, and saw at least 3 different people there taking photos. One was an Instagrammer, another was a STU student with a new DSLR, and there was also a guy taking some couple photos or something. I thought about how overused the walking bridge is here in Fredericton, and that’s when I realized that I might have just hit a goldmine.”
Savoie immediately went home and filed a copyright application with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO), showing the countless photos he himself had taken there as a Frederictonian with a camera, and banking on the hope that no one at CIPO had heard of the bridge and that no else had ever had this thought. Savoie lucked out, as his application was processed and approved within a week.
As of March 1, 2016, no one but Savoie is allowed to take photos or video of the walking bridge from any angle — be it on the bridge, from the city walking path, on a boat, aerial camera, etc.
“Now all I have to do is sit at home on my computer, filing copyright claims anytime someone uploads a photo to Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Twitter, anything,” gloated Savoie. “I made $2,300 in the first week, and the added bonus is that any couples wanting engagement photos or wedding photos on the bridge can only come to me now!
“Even all the Fredericton Tourism materials aren’t safe! Easy money.”
Savoie describes his visual style as “summer blockbuster teal-and-orange meets urban Fredericton digital street photography.” He claims that he has already had many reluctant requests for work, but he has also received a lot of flak from the photography community.
“What he’s done… I don’t know how that got approved, but it puts a bad name on all photographers, and it’s really just a slap in the face to the city of Fredericton,” said an angry Sherry Mosseler, a wedding photographer from Marysville. “We all have our own unique styles; any time a photographer shoots at the train bridge we bring something different to the shoot so the subjects feel like they aren’t just copying everyone else. You can’t just own the rights to shots at a specific location — it shouldn’t work that way!”
“Well it does work that way now,” said Savoie, upon being asked his thoughts on Mosseler’s comments.
“This is the new world. No more walking bridge photos, unless they’re from me,” bragged Savoie. “I know how much everyone loves them and how no one in Fredericton is tired of seeing them, so they’d better be prepared to pay the big bucks or wait 50 years after my death before they can bring anything resembling a camera onto that old hunk of wood and rusted metal.”